Next steps – copy­right

What do you ac­tu­ally own when you take a photo? And how do you pro­tect the as­sets that you cre­ate? We run you through the ba­sics…

Digital Photo (UK) - - CONTENTS - WORDS BY MATT HIGGS

Where do you stand if your pic­tures are used with­out your per­mis­sion? Dis­cover the rights in­her­ent on your im­ages – and how to en­force them.

What is copy­right?

Upon its cap­ture, ev­ery im­age has a se­ries of rights that are at­tached to it – en­ti­tle­ments to do some­thing with the shot. Copy­right is one of these, and gives its owner the ex­clu­sive abil­ity to ex­ploit the photo in a num­ber of ways, in­clud­ing its shar­ing and copy­ing both on­line and off, and the right to act against those who in­fringe this. Usu­ally, the per­son who cre­ated the im­age (you) will be the copy­rights ini­tial holder, but this changes if the shot was pro­duced as part of the cre­ator’s em­ploy­ment or un­der cer­tain con­tracts. The owner is able to as­sign or trans­fer their copy­right to an­other per­son or or­gan­i­sa­tion, or li­cense it’s use to them, usu­ally in re­turn for a pay­ment and for a spe­cific pe­riod of time. Pic­ture or ‘Stock’ li­braries like Getty or Alamy make money by li­cens­ing im­ages on an owner’s be­half and with their per­mis­sion, in re­turn for a fee. The copy­right of im­ages in the UK lasts for the life of the cre­ator plus 70 years from the end of the cal­en­dar year of their death. The owner of the copy­right can choose to leave it, in a will, to who­ever they like fol­low­ing their death. Fi­nally, the copy­right sym­bol or cre­ator’s name does not have to be present next to an im­age’s use for it to be cov­ered by it and pro­tected.

You can find out more in­for­ma­tion on­line about copy­right and im­ages from the UK govern­ment’s In­tel­lec­tual Prop­erty Of­fice at bit.ly/1oap­s1r.

Above The copy­right li­cens­ing of im­ages is a ma­jor source of rev­enue for many free­lance pho­tog­ra­phers, it’s also how the stock photo li­braries like Getty, istock and Alamy make their money.

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